Receivable/Accounts - Information for Credit and Collection Issues

Friday, May 7, 2021

Telegraphing Your Blows


In boxing and other similar sports, there’s a phrase, ‘telegraphing your blow’ … basically it means that your body movement tells your opponent that a punch is coming before it’s actually thrown.  It gives the opponent the chance to dodge the shot with plenty of warning.

When I started in collections, people around me with little experience or understanding of how other people think would get frustrated on a collection call and blurt out “if you aren’t going to work with me on this account, I guess I will sue you today!”.  Aside from this likely being untrue, it comes across as a schoolyard taunt, “Oh yeah?  Well my big brother will beat you up!”.  We want to avoid “Oh yeah?” statements at all costs … because it sounds as childish and tempramental as it looks on paper.

In collections, you should always telegraph your blow.  Nothing should be a surprise to a consumer or business – consequences or actions should be warned in advance, so if it comes to pass that you have to cancel a service, send a file to collections, affect someone’s credit, or issue a garnishment, the phone call or email you send the consumer should not be the first time they hear about it.

I
 prefer to get the consequences out, up front, in the first collection call … it motivates the consumer to resolve the account, and it clearly lays out an A-B choice for them to either work with you or have the consequences come to pass – it’s less of a threat and more of an option for the consumer to choose.

H
ere are a few phrases that will help you ‘telegraph your blow’

"Bob, I am calling you from a collection agency that reports to the credit bureau, and before we affect your credit rating for six years, I wanted to give you a courtesy call to see what your side of the story is".

“Susan, please understand that you have promised to mail a cheque to our office three times now, I need to let you know that if I don’t have a cheque in hand by this coming Friday, I have no choice but to send your file to our collection agency."

"Adam, please understand that I am holding off on filing this garnishment until Monday at 4pm – if your payment is here by then, I will happily tear this application to the court up, but if not, I will be walking it down to the court on Tuesday morning."

“Alice, unfortunately our time is up – as I indicated to you in our first call, if I didn’t have this account resolved by the 30th of the month, I would have no choice but to suspend your account, which I will be doing today.  If you have any questions, I would be happy to answer them.”

Make sure that every action has been mentioned in a previous call or correspondence … this way, you are just following through, making you appear consistent and professional, not arbitrary and emotional.  And aside from being professional, you are being kinder and giving the consumer every opportunity to avoid those consequences.

G
ot questions about delivering consequences to consumers?  Drop me a line …

T
hanks kindly,

B
lair DeMarco-Wettlaufer
K
INGSTON Data & Credit
Cambridge, ON
226-946-1730
blair@receivableaccounts.com